Fundraising Companies - Online Guide
Fundraising companies are big business. There are plenty of companies out there who earn a crust by making a profit from nonprofits. There are two main types: companies producing fundraising products , and fundraising consultants. The former will want to sell you candy, pom-poms or cookies, while the latter will want to sell you their expertise.
So is there any reason to use fundraising companies at all? It all depends on what your needs are. You might think it's difficult to tell if a company selling fundraising products is good value for money, but it's usually even harder to make decisions about the consultants. Our page on fundraising consultants gives some more advice about them, but you should remember that less easily measured benefits shouldn't be dismissed out of hand. Just because you can't weigh their expertise as you would candy doesn't mean you can't use it.
But even choosing from all the fundraising companies who focus on products can be a tough job. There are so many to choose from, and you could go cross-eyed making all the calculations about which company offers the best value.
You simply have to start narrowing it down. There are two very good ways of doing this, and you will probably end up using both. The first is to take into account your location. Some fundraising companies sell products all over the US , while others are limited to just one state. You may find that a company in your own state will be able to give you a better deal on delivery costs, although bigger companies have the power to strike harder bargains with their own suppliers, and might therefore be able to pass those discounts on to the customer (you) in the form of cheaper costs and shipping. You won't actually know until you begin calling around to compare deals. The website www.fundraisingweb.org lists many fundraising companies by state and province, which will help to get you started.
The second way of narrowing down the choice of fundraising company is to first choose the product you want to sell. Our section on fundraising products should give you some ideas, but it's good to think beyond the obvious and come up with something a bit more individual. For example, if you live in California , perhaps Smencils are for you. These are pencils made from newspaper, then hardened and soaked with what the San Diego-based company describes as "gourmet liquid scents": bubble gum, grape, cherry, pineapple, cinnamon candy and orange. You pay 50¢ for each pencil and sell each one at a dollar. If your project is to do with recycling, Smencils reinforce the message by being made of recycled materials. If your project is to do with education, a pencil that's a bit out of the ordinary will make an interesting slant on the education theme. You should be thinking about linking your good cause to the products sold if possible.
Once you've decided on the product (or at least on the general kind of product), the comparison work begins. Make a list of companies in your state that make the kind of products you're looking for. Then call the companies on the list and ask them for their prices. Don't be shy about asking if they can offer discounts, especially if you're ordering a large quantity of their products. And you definitely shouldn't be shy about telling each company that you're shopping around. If they know there's competition for your business, they might make more effort.
Finally, remember that perks from a company aren't all about discounts. Convenient delivery times may end up being worth more to you than money off your order, especially if you are on a tight schedule.